Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 11 Aug. '04, Merge Point MO; d 1 Jan. '95 LA) Pianist, bandleader. His home town is not there any more: washed into the Mississippi River. Began playing dixieland and steam calliope on a steamboat, not quite 16 years old: Bix Beiderbecke sat in on piano and Stacy heard what he wanted to play. Worked in many small groups, occasionally leading; joined Benny Goodman '35--9, went down in history playing lovely unscheduled solo on Carnegie Hall performance of 'Sing Sing Sing' Jan. '38. He never knew why the moody Goodman had given him the green light for a solo, but he turned the killer-diller into something impressionistic for a few minutes, a magic moment in the history of jazz. Worked for Bob Crosby '39--42, Goodman again (a modest man, he thought it was a measure of Goodman's strangeness that he fired Jimmy Rowles to hire Stacy back). Worked briefly for Horace Heidt; married to Lee Wiley '43--c46 ('She had million-dollar tastes and I didn't have any money'); led own band with her singing, recorded for Victor (classy 'It's Only A Paper Moon' '45). With Goodman again '46--7; went to West Coast and played in piano bars until '60. Left music, came back '74 to record for Chiaroscuro, play at Carnegie Hall (Newport Jazz Festival/NYC). Compilations incl. Blue Notion ('41 tracks) on Jazzology, broadcasts of '44- -5 band on Aircheck, Piano Solos '35--56 on Australian Swaggie, others. Jess Stacy And Friends was Commodore tracks '38--44 incl. solos, with Wiley, etc on Columbia Special Products USA: a German Teldec edition on CD had transfers at the wrong speed, Wiley sounding like Minnie Mouse. Chiaroscuro albums are Stacy Still Swings '74, Stacy's Still Swinging '77; also plays on Eddie Condon Town Hall Concerts (two-CD sets on Jazzology).